The declawing of cats has been a much-debated topic in veterinary medicine in the last few years. Declaw surgery, or onychectomy, is the amputation of the last digital bone, including the nail bed and claw, on each front toe. The risk of anesthesia, excessive bleeding, potential postoperative complications such as infection, and the significant pain caused by the procedure as well as potential long-term pain means declawing for routine purposes is no longer considered the best medicine.
Veterinary medicine has also made significant advancements in alternatives to the procedure that are safer for our pets. For these reasons, the Animal Health Clinic will no longer be offering this service.
Scratching is normal feline behavior. Cats are natural hunters and explorers. When we make them indoor pets, they can experience stress if not provided with an enriched environment full of outlets for their inquisitive, playful energy. An enriched environment includes providing things like scratching surfaces, toys, cat trees, and more.
It is our goal moving forward to help you guide the behavior of your kitten or cat to use approved surfaces. We will work with you to explore all options for ensuring your cat’s scratching is contained only to appropriate surfaces.
Here are some alternatives to manage natural scratching behavior and to prevent injury from cat scratches.
Having your cat’s nails trimmed regularly. You, as a pet owner, can learn how to effectively and safely trim nails at home. This will take practice and patience. It is very important to start slow, offer your pet breaks, and make it a familiar routine. Techniques to distract your cat with food rewards or other forms of positive reinforcement are important. One toe a day may all you will be able to do at first and that is ok.
Providing scratching pads, posts, and other appealing structures for your cat to use, and employing behavior modification techniques to induce your cat to use them.
Synthetic facial pheromone sprays/diffusers: Consider using synthetic facial pheromone sprays and/or diffusers to help relieve anxiety or stress, which may or may not be related to your cat’s scratching behavior. Apply a synthetic pheromone spray on the objects or areas in your home where your cat has exhibited undesired scratching.
Covering the claws with soft temporary pads (e.g., Soft Claws®).